Pandemic reset presents opportunity to build business back better

Signs of recovery are beginning to show and many businesses are now back on track

by HARIZAH KAMEL / Pic by TMR FILE PIX

THE government has recognised it won’t be business-as-usual as it grapples with challenges to bring business and the economy back on its feet post-Covid 19, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

“We need to take the bull by the horns. Some of the vulnerabilities and weaknesses exposed by this crisis are certainly not new, hence it is imperative that the government take this opportunity to reform the economy and build back better,” he said in his keynote speech at the Perdana Leadership Foundation CEO Forum 2021 yesterday.

Mustapa said the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) aims to ensure that Malaysia can achieve high-income status by 2025 and to focus on issues related to sustainability to become a carbon-neutral country by 2050, or before.

He said the 12MP will also provide more balanced development across regions and states to ensure that the fruits of development are fairly shared.

Although the global and domestic economies are showing signs of recovery with the medium-term outlook being a lot brighter, the pandemic’s ripple effects are still being felt.

Mustapa said signs of recovery are beginning to show and that many businesses, except for those in the tourism sector, are now back on track.

“The government will intensify efforts to help micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially small business owners by implementing programmes to raise income and capacity in urban and rural areas, as well as encouraging entrepreneurship and providing access to financial facilities.

“At the same time, the government will enhance access to education, healthcare and housing and improve the quality of life for the urban poor especially in the People’s Housing Project,” he said.

He said in preparing the 12MP, the Economic Planning Unit engaged with various stakeholders as early as April 2019.

“Going forward, we will continue with these engagements and work closely with all stakeholders to create a more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable Malaysia,” he added.

AmInvestment Bank Bhd chief economist Dr Anthony Dass, who moderated the keynote address, highlighted key elements for all businesses regardless if they are micro or SMEs to look at going forward. The first is for businesses to be tied up to sustainability which is environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG).

“What we realised is that consumer appetite is moving towards that direction. People are becoming far more learned in terms of all the importance of ESG.

“Besides that, businesses will have to move towards digitalisation and automation; some will be going to full-scale, others might go to 50% or 30%, it’s all relative to the type of business. Hence, businesses can’t run away from these two elements.

Dass, who is also a member of the Economic Action Council, stressed the final element is in terms of talent that has to be more market-driven than just becoming a theoretician.

“Rather than producing graduates who are so textbook driven which we tend to see, I think the dynamics of the whole scale has to move to what the market needs. This is where the reskilling and all its elements of things where companies want to do training and so on have to very much conform towards the business,” he said.